How do you engage and nurture customer relationships? Have great customer service? Create a unique customer experience and lasting customer relationships?
Good customer service is the interaction an employee provides to a customer before, during, and after a purchase. There are pre-requisites skills and behaviours that every employee must display if they are interacting with external customers and/or internal customers (or company stakeholder). The goal and objective is to provide a service that will ensure the customer comes back, and more importantly tell their network of the wonderful positive experience they just had.
What is required nowadays are:
- Customer Service
- Customer Experience
- Service Authenticity
- The Power of Reciprocity
1. Customer Service
Being polite and courteous is now a de-facto requirement, it is expected by customers and no longer a differentiator in the market place. In addition, with the advent of the millennials generation, that service and its responsiveness need to be instant — “Please send us an email and we will get back to you” is no longer adequate.
Customers want immediate answers, and they expect answers without being passed on to someone else.
So this raises a number of challenges. One, employees need to be trained, empowered, and technologically enabled to find and provide an answer instantly to a customer query. And two, do it efficiently in a short amount of time.
But this is now, no longer a differentiator nor does it provide a competitive edge.
So how can customers be serviced and won so that the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) – a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer is maintained or increased over time? We must remember that CLV is a very important number because it represents an upper limit a company must spend to acquire new customers.
2. Customer Experience
Customer Experience (CX) refers to the interaction experience between an organization and a customer – and whilst many companies have good interactions with customers (until the sale for example), they fail to proactive engage and manage the complete customer experience once the purchase has been completed.
Managing the customer’s journey will ensure that the CLV is increased over time as the customer will most likely return for subsequent purchases.
To do this properly, a customer journey will take into consideration the customer journey’s timeframe (from initial enquiry to purchase to affirmation to social acceptance and back to checking on new products to feed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs such as “Belonging, Esteem, and Self-Actualization.”
Companies need to proactively manage that CLV with positive reinforcement through social media with Facebook evergreen marketing campaigns, Instagram and clever use of #hastags, Twitter, website retargeting campaigns, behavioural email automations, articles in relevant journal / magazines and digital publications, and press releases. The goal? Nurture a customer journey, make them an advocate to your brand, to ignite their basic hierarchy of needs for customers to come back for more of your products and services.
With today’s available technology, accessing and segmenting your customers has never been so easy.
3. Service Authenticity
A customer experience is great, however an “Authentic Customer Experience” is even more powerful. We all have heard of “Fake News” so bringing authenticity and truth of emotion in the interaction with a customer whilst at the same time providing a great customer experience has to be authentic, genuine – not because a person is paid to perform a task.
How often have you gone back to a shop or company, not because of its name or brand, but because you had a very pleasant and genuine interaction with a staff member? The opposite is true as well, you would not go back because of a negative experience. In both cases, the brand is the recipient of the positive or negative experience.
Service Authenticity brings sincerity which brings out and add trust to the customer experience, and trust means that a company lives out their promises in fulfilling and exceeding your anticipated needs and requirements. In the end, a trustworthy experience will improve CLV.
4. The Power of Reciprocity
The final element is using the power of reciprocity, as long as it is done in a genuine and authentic manner. In social psychology, reciprocity is a social rule that says people feel the need to repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them – to give back – and reciprocate.
Earlier this year I started a new Branding Agency called PS Branding. PS Branding helps new entrepreneurs with all their branding or re-branding, from logo creation to website design to screenprinting and ongoing social media marketing once the correct ‘plumbing’ has been performed as to not waste marketing dollars. This business was purely built on the concept of reciprocity and our mission statement “Here to help you get noticed” attests to that. We don’t even have a website yet and simply started it with Instagram as our marketing tool because I wanted this business to be built from a local geography at first.
By promoting local entrepreneurs, and helping them market we gained new customers – which we in turn promote. The concept of reciprocity is the core value of PS Branding.
Another example would be assisting a potential customer with their queries, or providing advice that will not necessarily result in a sale for you or your organization. People do remember the help they receive and many will come to you because of your act of kindness.
To summarize, great customer service, enhancing the experience of customers journey over time, being authentic and providing services beyond expectation will nurture customers and earn great reciprocity benefits in the long run.
Testimonial “Christophe took the time to learn about our audience prior to his presentation to ensure he would resonate with their interests. Christophe’s warmth and ability to communicate are just a couple of Christophe’s strengths. He provided a captivating presentation as well as subtly introducing the topic of Customer Service – a message pertinent to our event. I would highly recommend him.”
Kay Eade –Executive Officer – Chamber of Commerce Northern Territory.
Book Christophe Barriere-Varju as your public speaker for your upcoming conference or event.